CHRIST AT THE CHECKPOINT 2016: STILL DEMONIZING ISRAEL

Why this year’s Christian anti-Semite confab is the most disturbing yet.

By Susan Warner, FPM  March 9, 2016

Two years ago, in a news briefing, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) was among the first to sound the alarm that Evangelical Christians had launched an organized effort to abandon their long-held Biblical commitment to Israel:  “Just when the annual ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ campaign will be hitting college campuses across North America this week, Palestinian Christians are hosting a five-day conference in Bethlehem which is expected to convey many of the same messages and aims of seeking to delegitimize Israel. What makes this “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference unusual is that it is largely an initiative of Christians from the Evangelical movement, whose ranks traditionally have held favorable views on Israel.”

Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) is a biennial conference event held at Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Israel.  In this, its fourth year, roughly 600 Christian pastors and leaders from a variety of nations will gather around the theme “The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism.”

Bethlehem Bible College is the host and sponsor. NGO Monitor said of the 2014 conference the CATC “seeks to advance the Palestinian nationalist agenda within Evangelical Christian churches, while simultaneously reviving theological anti-Semitic themes such as replacement theology.”

Replacement theology governs the Bethlehem College’s pro-Palestinian sympathies. It is a theology rooted in ancient Christianity. It falsely affirms that Christianity has replaced Judaism and Israel in God’s economy. The Christian Church is considered the “New Israel” or “the Israel of God.”  For two thousand years, this theological stance has commonly misconstrued Bible narratives to defame Israel and the Jews.

Within the “replacement” framework, Jews are marginalized— essentially demoted to a kind of spiritual surfdom.  Accordingly, Jewish claims to their biblical inheritance of the land of Israel are null and void because the land is considered now a “universal mission” available to any and all claims, particularly those made by “native Palestinian” Arabs.

One of the more extreme anti-Semitic libels of replacement theology is the idea that the Jews from Eastern Europe cannot claim their own Judaism because they are mongrel descendants of the Khazars, who infiltrated Europe centuries ago. Accordingly, the European Jews are not really Jews at all.  How can they then dare claim Israel as their Biblical inheritance?

The conference theme of “The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism” not surprisingly includes topics on religious extremism within Islam and Judaism. The conference schedule reveals the actual skew of the gathering.  One segment titled “The Challenge of Christian Zionism” seems an odd, incongruous topic in a conference on “extremism,” unless, of course, the intent of the organizers is to demonize Christian Zionism as “extremist” by association.

Including the topic of Zionism in a conference on “extremism” is tantamount to demonizing not only Jews but also those Christians who support the Jewish state.  This is but one example of how Christian theology becomes a tool to undermine Israel.

Hank Hanegraaff will present a paper titled “A Gospel Response to Christian Zionism.” Hanegraaff is well-known on Christian radio as “The Bible Answer Man.” His paper, like his anti-Zionist, anti-Israel theology, will likely diminish the commitment of Christian Zionists and thus try to invalidate those who interpret the Bible as God’s embrace of Israel.

Hanegraaff is considered by some to be a reliable Bible scholar. But his Preterest theology denies Israel’s position as the prophetic fulfillment of God’s plans. Preterism, among its many components, is a form of replacement theology asserting that all of God’s prophecies were fulfilled with Jesus’ death and resurrection in the first century. Hanegraaff’s position is an example of Christian anti-Israelism in its purest form.  According to Preterist scholarship, Israel as a state is merely an accident of history.

Preterists like Hanegraaff are not the only theologians to claim that Israel has no more right to the land than the man in the moon.  In 2013, the Scottish Presbyterian Church  triggered an international firestorm with a “scholarly report” in which they circumnavigated the entire bible to assert that contemporary Israel was not the Israel of the Bible and nothing much more than a historical accident.  As such, they concluded that Israel has no unique, justifiable claim to the land.

Munther Isaac, the organizer of Christ at the Checkpoint conference, is a professor at the Bethlehem Bible College.  He will deliver a paper entitled “Christian Zionism as Imperial Theology.”

Assuming Isaac’s paper is in agreement with his previous writings opposing Christian Zionism, he will likely assert that Zionists and their Christian friends are partners in an imperialist, colonialist enterprise from the very inception of modern Zionism in the late 1800s.

Isaac, while he does not consider himself an anti-Semite, he is very negative about Zionism.  Even the Christ at the Checkpoint logo features “the wall” and the “checkpoint” as two so-called proofs that Israel is anti-Palestinian without any acknowledgement of the role Palestinian violence may have played in Israel’s decision to build the wall.

Like his close associates, Gary Burge, Steven Sizer and Colin Chapman, all of whom are or have been speakers at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference, Isaac incorrectly conflates dispensationalist theology with the Biblical Zionist claims of Israel’s rights to the land.

Among the enemies facing the nation of Israel daily — Islam, European Union, anti-Israel political forces and Palestinian terrorism from within — Christ at the Checkpoint Conference will join in the chorus of those who work to destroy Israel by the power of words.

The conference masquerades as a sincere effort to seek justice for oppressed Palestinians and bring peace to the region. In truth, it focuses less on seeking peace than on demonizing Israel — denying the Jews’ national legitimacy.

Buried within the conference Manifesto is it’s core theology— claims for Palestinian peace and justice by denying Israel’s historic, legal and biblical rights to the land.  Among the Items enumerated in the Christ at the Checkpoint Manifesto are:

  • “Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of scripture” says the Manifesto in item five.
  • “Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abraham Covenant.”
  • “For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.”
  • “The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.”

Who could deny that “peace and justice” are worthy aims on both sides of the conflict?  But therein, lies a questionable motive— called by some scholars, “Christian Palestinianism” or “Palestinian liberation theology” are  theories which offer the Palestinian Arabs a free ride on “peace and justice” coattails.  The Palestinians are no less than perpetual victims of so called Israeli imperialism and occupation.

Christian Liberationism, a subset of replacement theology, derives from the political activism of the Jesuits in South America in the 1950s. Liberationism views Jesus through a lens of socio-political populism on behalf of the underdog Palestinians even going so far as to claim Jesus was a Palestinian.

Liberation theology paints Jesus as a kind of  messianic zealot of the second temple period.  In the most extreme cases of Liberationism, such as in Sabeel’s Palestinian Liberation Theology, Jesus is a Palestinian prototype— he is identified with the Palestinian cause and represents Palestinian suffering in his life and his death.

The Black Liberation theology of pastors like Jeremiah Wright, espouses black nationalism, anti-Judaism and anti-western rhetoric. Liberationism in its variety of parts is a frequent tag-a-long with extreme, anti- West and anti-Semitic sentiments.

Jesus describes his own role as advancing the kingdom of God among the Jews.  But there are others who ascribe far more than that to his mission. In the most far- reaching applications of Palestinian Liberationism, the Palestinian Arab cause, has significantly more validity than the Zionist enterprise which, at best, is an interloper in a Palestinian utopian fantasy.

Such figures as Stephen Sizer (Anglican) and Naim Ateek (Sabeel), both from Anglican roots, hobnob with Iranian and other Muslim Arab extremists to somehow emphasize their accusation of Israel as an imperialist, colonialist occupier of Palestinian land.

The Liberationist movement has made some very strange bedfellows.  Alliances between the World Council of Churches, Sabeel, Christ at the Checkpoint and its sponsor Bethlehem Bible College, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, Eastern Orthodox Churches  and even secular organizations like Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)  have collaborated to undermine and demonize Israel and salute the Palestinian flag.

Promulgated by the “Christian Palestinianists,” the idea that Israel, at its core, is responsible for every evil on the face of the earth, is libelous, anti-Semitic fiction.   At the unfortunate Christ at the Checkpoint conference, distortions, false accusations and innuendo against both Christian and Jewish Zionists as “extremists” are covered in political platitudes and religious rhetoric.

The Christ at the Checkpoint Conference is just another tedious example of how name-calling and demonization of Israel masquerades as a legitimate Christian enterprise.

April 12, 2017 | Comments Off on CHRIST AT THE CHECKPOINT 2016: STILL DEMONIZING ISRAEL | 74 views

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  1. Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) is a biennial conference event held at Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Israel.

    Wonder why they are not holding this conference in Gaza or one of the other fine Arab capitals…

  2. @ keelie (and Ted Belman):

    Keelie, Bethlehem is controlled by Muslim Arabs. It used to be a Christian city, until the Muslims drove them out, just a few years ago.

    Ted, labeling the participants of this conference as “Christians” is misleading and disingenuous. It would be like making statements about “Jews”, based on the Neturei Karta. MANY groups call themselves “evangelical”, from all across the political spectrum. They come replete with useful idiots, like the author of the following:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/mayweb-only/119-31.0.html

    You know very well, Ted, that opposition to Israel in the US does not come from committed Christians. It comes from the mainstream media and the Democratic Party — which, I will remind you, is supported disproportionately, even today, by Jews.

  3. This is my standard reply to the Khazar reference:
    DNA evidence has shown Ashkenazim are not Khazars. http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol_preprints/41/
    There is no archaeological evidence for Jewish Khazarians. No Jewish Khazarian cemeteries with obligatory Hebrew inscribed stone tombstones; no mikvas of specified size (stone bath houses), no synagogues where communal prayer is required, no ritual objects, no Jewish literature in Khazar language, no Rabbinical correspondence; NOTHING!! It’s a total racist fraud to support Replacement Theology that Jews today are not real Jews, but Xtians are somehow the New Jews deserving of G-d’s blessing promised to Jews. GET YOUR OWN BLESSING. IT’S A RACIST ANTI-ASIAN COMMENT, TOO, with its origins in the English WWI calumnies against the Germans calling them ‘Huns’.

  4. @ Michael S:
    Michael, I think you also made my case:

    Keelie, Bethlehem is controlled by Muslim Arabs. It used to be a Christian city, until the Muslims drove them out, just a few years ago.

  5. @ Dean Blake:
    xx

    I believe that you are wrong in this. There are many confirmations by well known travellers, as well as letters to and from many of the surrounding nations that the Khazars-as a people- were Jewish. I’m sure it could be found even on the internet. Perhaps there are no stone tablets in Hebrew, nor perhaps mikvahs, discovered, but numerous coins have been found at Khazar sites BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS with Jewish detail on them like Magen David, Shofar, Menorah bunches of grapes etc, and also the Name of Moses etc. There is also a list of the rulers from the 8th century on, and they all have Jewish Biblical names. And not to forget the letters exchanged between Hasdai Ibn Shaprut and King Joseph which I read about when a child. I have them in a book somewhere still. And much more…

    The only “mystery” is as to how widespread the conversion was,…the Royal Family and the Nobles certainly but how far it penetrated to the people is left to speculation by historians and dogmatists.

  6. @ yamit82:
    They are advocating BDS.

    “The 2016 CATC conference focused on “The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism.”
    The conference was featured on the Kairos Palestine website. The Kairos Palestine Document was drafted in 2009 by a group of thirteen Palestinian Christian clergy. It calls for BDS against Israel, denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, and blames Israel solely for the continuation of the conflict. Its purpose is to rally churches globally to support BDS, delegitimization, and demonization directed at the State of Israel.”

    http://www.ngo-monitor.org/ngos/christ_at_the_checkpoint/

  7. @ Dean Blake
    :
    What’s so racist (anti-Semitic!) about Replacement theology?

    Xtians have, unsurprisingly, a xtian-centric view of the world. They believe that on the spiritual stage, the Jews were written out of the script after around 70 CE.

    That’s benign.

  8. @ Edgar G.:
    Yes, the survivors assimilated into other existing Jewish communities after theirs was destroyed.

    Ironically, though it started out as a canard championed by anti-semites in the 19th C, it was revived by Arthur Koestler who wanted to show European anti-semites that Jews were not racially different from themselves to get them to abandon their racism against us.

    No point. They hate us because they want to, they will hate us for opposite reasons in the same breath. They start with the hatred and then look for pretexts.

    An older Eastern European waiter came up to me out of the blue with this crap — assuming I was a Jew, just from looking at me — at a wedding I was playing at the Waldorf Astoria, once — without even introducing himself — as though we had been in the middle of a conversation. He said, “I’m not an anti-semite, my wife is Jewish.” I said, did you just come up to me because you assume I’m Jewish just from looking at me?” He replied, “yes.”

    I’m not racist against Muslims — quite aside from the fact that Islam is not a race — I wish all anti-semites could be deported. Tomorrow morning.

  9. @ Abolish_public_education:

    Mohammed and Luther to name a couple of the most prominent maniacs who were friendly to us until they realized they couldn’t convert all or most of us and then they became eliminationist ant-semites.

    You are mistaken about all Christians being that way, in fact, it’s mostly the “liberal” churches that hate us. From 2006:

    @ Abolish_public_education:
    You are mistaken. See article:

    “…Hagee also carefully explained his thinking on the incendiary issue of evangelical attitudes to Jews and Judaism. In precise and deliberate language, flavored with a rich, deep Texas drawl, he asserted that a growing majority of evangelical leaders do not preach “replacement theology, which teaches that the Church has replaced Israel” and the Jews “have no future in the plan of God.” The vast majority of evangelicals, rather, teach that “the Christians have a Bible mandate to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people without a hidden agenda.” True to that interpretation, Hagee said, “I do not target Jews for conversion.”

    “…The vast majority of evangelicals do not believe in replacement theology. Evangelicals believe that Israel has a Bible mandate to the land, a divine covenant for the land of Israel, forever. That the Jewish people are chosen of God and are the apple of God’s eye. That Christians have a Bible mandate to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people, to demonstrate to the Jewish people what they have not experienced from Christianity for 2,000 years…”

    “…We would say that God gave the Jewish people this sacred land. “It’s yours. Don’t give it away. If you choose to give it away, that’s your business.” However, our support of Israel continues regardless of your choice…”

    http://www.jpost.com/Features/Evangelicals-seeing-the-error-of-replacement-theology

  10. :

    Evangelical Christians had launched an organized effort to abandon their long-held Biblical commitment to Israel

    :
    The commitment that fundamentalist Xtians feel towards Israel is not “biblical” (whatever that means, possibly an interpretation of Revelations).

    It’s merely a reflection of their belief that in order for their messiah to come, Jews must be in position (i.e. Israel) to be mostly wiped out in the final triumph of good over evil.

    That ultimate condemnation of the Jews is a belief rejected by many Replacement theology adherents (those antisemites!). While they don’t disagree that the end will be marked by some sort of huge battle, they warn that Xtians themselves, the new Chosen, will be the main victims of the battle.

  11. @ Sebastien Zorn
    :
    As a respected, free-market, historical economist and Protestant theologian (North) has observed, the Evangelical, pro-Holocaust II view (which includes a sort of helicopter-
    rescue of Xtians, i.e. Rapture) is motivated by their wish to be able to get to heaven without dying first.

    I don’t know what motivates support for Israel as expressed by specific Xtians, but the general idea of wanting to protect the Jewish State of Israel is explained by the belief, held by many Xtians, that the prophesy of their final victory must satisfy the condition that a 2/3 majority of the Jews in Israel will be violently eliminated.

    No big number of Jews in Israel, no coming of their messiah.

    This also explains why Evangelicals are generally reluctant to proselytize Israeli Jews.

  12. @ Sebastien Zorn
    :
    The sort of Xtian Zionism that you’ve held up as a model (and the author does in more fuzzy fashion), wherein Xtians espouse that strong support for a Jewish Israel is based on proper understanding of the ancient texts [including Torah!], is a very post-modern thing.

    I dare say that it’s a heresy.

    I suspect that Zionists who hold such views aren’t speaking as Xtians, but rather as neocons. In that sense, to the extent that the Arab Xtians want to expose those people as being frauds, that CATC agenda-item is perfectly justified.

  13. @ Abolish_public_education:
    It’s a recent thing, only maybe 20 years, but it’s representative. Don’t talk twaddle about heresy. All popular ideologies, religious and secular are riddled with contradictions and ambiguities, so that diverse groups of followers can say they mean whatever they want them to and still feel comfortably traditional.

    However, American Christian Zionism dates way back.

    http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/Nurturing-Christian-Zionism-in-Colonial-America-467000

    In fact, ironically, the American University in Lebanon was founded by Christian Zionists. Napoleon Bonaparte was also a Christian Zionist who wanted to liberate Israel and return it to the Jews. Ever heard of Rev. James Parkes?* We’ve always had friend and enemies cherry picking the texts that support their positions the way Rev. Hagee does in this article you didn’t bother to read.

    “It is not so much what you believe in that matters, as the way in which you believe it and proceed to translate that belief into action.” – Lin Yutang

    * James Parkes —

    “PARKES, JAMES WILLIAM° (1896–1981), English theologian and historian. Educated in Guernsey and at Oxford, Parkes, a member of the Church of England, was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1926 and from 1928 to 1934 was study secretary of the International Student Service in Geneva. Actively aware of the antisemitism prevalent in the Central and Eastern European universities, he wrote his earliest book, The Jew and His Neighbour (1930, 19382). He then embarked on what was planned as a comprehensive history of antisemitism, the chief responsibility for which he saw in the policy of the Christian Church (The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, 1934; The Jew in the Medieval Community, 1938). He wrote a long series of other works on antisemitism, the origins of Christianity, the history of Palestine, etc., in all of which he demonstrated a strong sympathy with the Jewish people and appreciation of Judaism as a religious system. Parkes collaborated with many Jewish organizations and was president of the Jewish Historical Society of England (1949–51). His important private library on Jewish history and Jewish-Gentile relations, which he collected at his home in Barley (near Cambridge) and was incorporated in 1956 as a center for the study of relations between the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds, was given by Parkes to the University of Southampton, where the university established a research fellowship for the study of the relations of Jewish and non-Jewish communities. In 1967 Parkes published Arabs and Jews in the Middle East – A Tragedy of Errors. Parkes’ autobiography, “Voyage of Discoveries”, appeared in 1969. James Parkes was one of the most sincere, outspoken, and influential Christian philo-semites of 20th century Britain.”

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/parkes-james-william-x00b0

    “Letter to the Jewish Nation from the French Commander-in-Chief Buonaparte
    (translated from the Original, 1799)

    General Headquarters, Jerusalem 1st Floreal, April 20th, 1799,
    in the year of 7 of the French Republic

    BUONAPARTE, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMIES OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC
    IN AFRICA AND ASIA, TO THE RIGHTFUL HEIRS OF PALESTINE.

    Israelites, unique nation, whom, in thousands of years, lust of conquest and tyranny have been able to be deprived of their ancestral lands, but not of name and national existence !

    Attentive and impartial observers of the destinies of nations, even though not endowed with the gifts of seers like Isaiah and Joel, have long since also felt what these, with beautiful and uplifting faith, have foretold when they saw the approaching destruction of their kingdom and fatherland: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35,10)

    Arise then, with gladness, ye exiled ! A war unexampled In the annals of history, waged in self-defense by a nation whose hereditary lands were regarded by its enemies as plunder to be divided, arbitrarily and at their convenience, by a stroke of the pen of Cabinets, avenges its own shame and the shame of the remotest nations, long forgotten under the yoke of slavery, and also, the almost two-thousand-year-old ignominy put upon you; and, while time and circumstances would seem to be least favourable to a restatement of your claims or even to their expression ,and indeed to be compelling their complet abandonment, it offers to you at this very time, and contrary to all expectations, Israel’s patrimony !

    The young army with which Providence has sent me hither, let by justice and accompanied by victory, has made Jerusalem my head-quarters and will, within a few days, transfer them to Damascus, a proximity which is no longer terrifying to David’s city.

    Rightful heirs of Palestine !

    The great nation which does not trade in men and countries as did those which sold your ancestors unto all people (Joel,4,6) herewith calls on you not indeed to conquer your patrimony ;nay, only to take over that which has been conquered and, with that nation’s warranty and support, to remain master of it to maintain it against all comers.

    Arise ! Show that the former overwhelming might of your oppressors has but repressed the courage of the descendants of those heroes who alliance of brothers would have done honour even to Sparta and Rome (Maccabees 12, 15) but that the two thousand years of treatment as slaves have not succeeded in stifling it.

    Hasten !, Now is the moment, which may not return for thousands of years, to claim the restoration of civic rights among the population of the universe which had been shamefully withheld from you for thousands of years, your political existence as a nation among the nations, and the unlimited natural right to worship Jehovah in accordance with your faith, publicly and most probably forever (JoeI 4,20).”

    http://www.mideastweb.org/napoleon1799.htm

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